Case Digest: Lirio v. Genovia

G.R. No. 169757: November 23, 2011

CESAR C. LIRIO, doing business under the name and style of CELKOR AD SONICMIX, Petitioner, v. WILMER D. GENOVIA, Respondent.



Respondent was allegedly hired on August 15, 2001 as studio manager by petitioner Lirio, owner of Celkor Ad Sonicmix Recording Studio (Celkor). A few days after he started working as a studio manager, petitioner approached him and told him about his project to produce an album for his 15-year-old daughter. Petitioner asked respondent to compose and arrange songs for Celine and promised that he (Lirio) would draft a contract to assure respondent of his compensation for such services. As agreed upon, the additional services that respondent would render included composing and arranging musical scores only, while the technical aspect in producing the album, such as digital editing, mixing and sound engineering would be performed by respondent in his capacity as studio manager for which he was paid on a monthly basis.

Respondent reminded petitioner about his compensation as composer and arranger of the album. Petitioner verbally assured him that he would be duly compensated. By mid-November 2001, respondent finally finished the compositions and musical arrangements of the songs to be included in the album.

Thereafter, respondent was tasked by petitioner to prepare official correspondence, establish contacts and negotiate with various radio stations, malls, publishers, record companies and manufacturers, record bars and other outlets in preparation for the promotion of the said album. By early February 2002, the album was in its manufacturing stage.

On February 26, 2002, respondent again reminded petitioner about the contract on his compensation as composer and arranger of the album. Petitioner told respondent that since he was practically a nobody and had proven nothing yet in the music industry, respondent did not deserve a high compensation, and he should be thankful that he was given a job to feed his family. Petitioner informed respondent that he was entitled only to 20% of the net profit, and not of the gross sales of the album, and that the salaries he received and would continue to receive as studio manager of Celkor would be deducted from the said 20% net profit share. Respondent objected and insisted that he be properly compensated. On March 14, 2002, petitioner verbally terminated respondent's services, and he was instructed not to report for work. On July 9, 2002, respondent Wilmer D. Genovia filed a complaint against petitioner for illegal dismissal, non-payment of commission and award of moral and exemplary damages.

Petitioner asserted that from the aforesaid terms and conditions, his relationship with respondent is one of an informal partnership under Article 1767 of the New Civil Code, since they agreed to contribute money, property or industry to a common fund with the intention of dividing the profits among themselves. Petitioner had no control over the time and manner by which respondent composed or arranged the songs, except on the result thereof.


I. Whether or not an employer-employee relationship existed between petitioner and respondent


The elements to determine the existence of an employment relationship are:

(a) the selection and engagement of the employee;
(b) the payment of wages;
(c) the power of dismissal; and
(d) the employer's power to control the employee's conduct.

The most important element is the employer's control of the employee's conduct, not only as to the result of the work to be done, but also as to the means and methods to accomplish it.

It is settled that no particular form of evidence is required to prove the existence of an employer-employee relationship. Any competent and relevant evidence to prove the relationship may be admitted.

In this case, the documentary evidence presented by respondent to prove that he was an employee of petitioner are as follows: (a) a document denominated as "payroll" certified correct by petitioner, which showed that respondent received a monthly salary of P7,000.00 (P3,500.00 every 15th of the month and another P3,500.00 every 30th of the month) with the corresponding deductions due to absences incurred by respondent; and (2) copies of petty cash vouchers, showing the amounts he received and signed for in the payrolls.

The said documents showed that petitioner hired respondent as an employee and he was paid monthly wages of P7,000.00. Petitioner wielded the power to dismiss as respondent stated that he was verbally dismissed by petitioner, and respondent, thereafter, filed an action for illegal dismissal against petitioner. The power of control refers merely to the existence of the power. It is not essential for the employer to actually supervise the performance of duties of the employee, as it is sufficient that the former has a right to wield the power. Nevertheless, petitioner stated in his Position Paper that it was agreed that he would help and teach respondent how to use the studio equipment. In such case, petitioner certainly had the power to check on the progress and work of respondent.

On the other hand, petitioner failed to prove that his relationship with respondent was one of partnership. Such claim was not supported by any written agreement. It is a well-settled doctrine, that if doubts exist between the evidence presented by the employer and the employee, the scales of justice must be tilted in favor of the latter.

Based on the foregoing, it is clear that an employer-employee relationship existed between petitioner and respondent.